We know that, during the lockout, teams are prohibited from communicating with big league free agents or their own 40-man roster players about baseball. That sucks in its own right, but what about communicating about other logistical stuff? Or friend stuff? Or just life stuff?
Here’s a good read from Jake Mintz over at Fox Sports on precisely that question, with feedback from several players who speak frankly about how much impact the lockout has on regular life – and about how inconsistently teams are handling team-player interactions:
I talked w/Charlie Morton, Lucas Giolito and Zack Britton about how MLB’s no-contact mandate for team employees has impacted their offseason
“I just want to check in with people. But I feel like I’m putting them in a bad spot if I do that”https://t.co/71Obg0phMw
— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) December 21, 2021
MLB teams communicated with their employees as soon as the lockout started with rules about interacting with 40-man players, and the mandate was clear: no contact at all. Some teams have enforced that mandate loosely, while others have been really strict.
One pain – no pun intended – is going to be for rehabbing players, who cannot actually work with their club on the rehab plan or update them on progress. Charlie Morton says he was made to feel like he couldn’t even send the latest X-ray from his broken leg to the Braves. The players will do their best, and many are long-time pros who’ve worked through these things before. But not all of them.
On a personal level, Morton worries that if he even so much as sends a text or makes a phone call to talk to any Braves employee about anything, he might be putting their job at risk. That can’t be an enjoyable situation for players to be in, especially when many of them have long-standing relationships with team employees – relationships that go far beyond being just business: “If I wanted to reach out and talk about a day-to-day occurrence, about my life or my kids, even with someone working in another organization, I’m putting them at risk,” Morton told Fox Sports. “If I ran into someone at the mall or the bus stop or the coffee shop, I’m putting them in a bad situation by trying to communicate with them.”
As the article notes there are some teams that aren’t being quite as stringent in their enforcement of the no-contact rules. There are social gatherings at times, and the only real rule is that you can’t talk about labor issues. I’m not sure it is a great idea not to have hard-and-fast rules in place, but I also don’t exactly want to be out here advocating that team employees should, for example, refuse to go to a player’s wedding this month. There’s gotta be a balance, and you can read more about how players are trying to get through it in the Fox Sports article.
In the end, the point here is just the reminder: the lockout isn’t (yet) impacting the revenue of the sport, and isn’t (yet) limiting the transactions that will take place eventually. But there is at least some human cost.
Also, this is kinda funny:
(Yankees reliever Zack) Britton and his brother, Buck, who manages Baltimore’s Triple-A club in Norfolk, are in a supremely weird spot. As an MLB team employee, Buck is technically prohibited from contacting his brother, who is a 40-man roster player for the Yankees.
“We’ve joked that during Christmas, he’s got to stay on the other side of the room,” Zack told FOX Sports.